|Hillary Clinton at Saban|
Driving in Neutral: Hillary Clinton Explains the Israel-Palestinian Conflict
-Barry Rubin, PhD
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s said some very interesting and revealing things in her appearance at the Saban Center’s gala dinner, November 30. They are, however, being quoted out of context. Let’s look at what she actually said in some detail for a sense of how the Obama Administration's highest-ranking foreign policy official and a future presidential candidate thinks about this issue.
There’s something important in this passage that no one has noticed. For the first time ever, Clinton publicly and explicitly acknowledged that the freeze did not cover East Jerusalem. Why, then, did Vice-President Joe Biden throw a temper tantrum when an Israeli zoning board cleared some future construction there? At the time, the U.S. government repeatedly implied that Israel violated the agreement, which it didn’t. Now Clinton admits that.
“I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion. So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.”
2. Lack of generosity: This is shameful. First of all, since when is generosity an international diplomatic norm? Against what other country or people would she dare make such a statement?
But in fact Israel has been generous. It has freed large numbers of Palestinian prisoners to get back kidnapped Israelis; it let around 200,000 Palestinians come to the territories after 1993; it has used much less force than it might have; it has largely ignored continuous incitement against itself and not responded in kind. The list is a long one...
Every Israeli leader, except those on the right-wing fringe, is perfectly aware of the Palestinian case and complaints. To cite only one example, Ehud Barak once said that if had been a Palestinians he would have been a fighter in Fatah. No country in modern history has shown more empathy to its enemies. Can anyone cite a single example—a speech, an article—on the Palestinian side that has shown any shred of empathy?
If they are oppressed it is by their own leaders. And once you have “the pain of an oppressed people” it is a short step toward believing that terrorism and intransigence is just an expression of that pain, rather than the cause of it.